Money-spinning band reunions are as commonplace as Coalition rifts in this day and age but Dinosaur Jr’s rapprochement six years ago has proved to have been inspired by a higher purpose.
Eschewing the greatest hits tours in favour of concentrating on music, the alternative rock trio have produced three stunning new albums since re-forming that represent their finest works to date. However, despite singer/guitarist J Mascis, bassist/singer Lou Barlow and drummer Murph touring in support of their well-received latest record, I Bet on Sky, the band concentrate more on their past with less than a third of the songs played having been written after 1994. The gig gets off to a slow start and the band appear sluggish. Sound problems render Mascis’s laconic, Neil Young-esque vocals, often inaudible. However this is Dinosaur Jr, whose unique blend of country, punk rock and metal inspired Nirvana and a generation of apathetic youth culture. Three songs in they uncork The Wagon from 1991’s Green Mind and the crowd loses it, jumping around like it’s Seattle in 1991.
Mascis, one of America’s most mesmerising guitarists, predictably steals much of the attention but Barlow’s driving bass and Murph’s dependable drums are unstoppable. Set closer Forget the Swan is a notable high point as Mascis’s battered Fender screams with raging harmonies.
Encores of The Cure’s Just Like Heaven and their own Sludgefest send the crowd home happy and wondering just how many more high points we can expect from this most special and inspirational of bands.